Morning Briefing: Who gets dumped?

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Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee likely will need to get bounced from the rotation once Zack Wheeler arrives.

FIRST PITCH: So how do the Mets clear a rotation spot when Zack Wheeler joins the Mets in mid-June?

Matt Harvey isn’t going anywhere. Jonathon Niese isn’t, either. And because of his veteran status and $4 million base salary, it is unlikely winless Shaun Marcum is going to get bounced from the rotation.

The choices for bullpen relocation … or demotion: Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34 ERA) and Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 4.76).

The predisposition probably had been to put Hefner in the bullpen as a long reliever and return Collin McHugh to Triple-A Las Vegas, since scouts often have projected Gee as a quality fifth starter and see Hefner as more of a swingman and rotation safety net.

But Gee’s performance this season, including allowing five fifth-inning runs and departing Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, and Hefner’s more credible recent outings complicate that decision.

There is still time for both to state their cases. Around the time Wheeler is projected to join the Mets, the team will need a sixth starter for a five-game series in Atlanta June 17-20. So the decision likely will not need to be made until after that.

Meanwhile, after dropping two games yesterday to the Atlanta Braves, the Mets (17-29) are now winless through five games of their homestand. They only have a better record than the Houston Astros (14-35) and Miami Marlins (13-36).

The Amazin’s have lost eight straight games at Citi Field. With 12 losses in their past 15 games overall, the Mets have fallen 12 games under .500 at this early a date for the first time since 1993.

The Mets send Marcum (0-5, 6.59) to the mound for an ESPN-televised game on Sunday night at 8:05 opposite Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.99).

The four-game Subway Series then gets underway Memorial Day -- with two games in each ballpark, beginning in Queens. Matt Harvey Day is Tuesday, opposite Hiroki Kuroda.

Sunday’s news reports:

• Ageless Mariano Rivera continued his production Saturday, converting his 18th straight save opportunity to open the season in the Yankees’ 4-3 comeback win in 11 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets will honor the retiring Rivera, 43, before Tuesday’s game -- the closer’s last in Queens (with the exception of the All-Star Game). Last season, the Mets presented retiring Chipper Jones artwork inside the bowels of Citi Field, then replayed the ceremony on the scoreboard once fans arrived.

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Mariano Rivera received mounted photos from Jim Leyland during his final visit to Detroit as a player.

Rivera has received gifts at every last stop in a city so far, so spare the outrage at the Mets recognizing his retirement, too.

The Detroit Tigers gave mounted photos of Mo pitching at the old Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park with dirt capsules from each stadium. The Cleveland Indians gave a gold record of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies each have donated $5,000 to his charitable foundation.

Of course, having the Mo’s Zone in right field at Citi Field arguably is enough.

• The Atlanta Braves scored a pair of runs against Brandon Lyon in the 10th inning and won the resumption of Friday’s suspended game, 7-5. The Mets placed two runners on base in the bottom half against closer Craig Kimbrel, but Ruben Tejada popped out on an attempted sacrifice bunt and Justin Turner grounded into a game-ending double play. The defeat kept the Mets winless in the 10 games following Harvey starts, and meant the Mets are now 0-9 in Hefner starts, although this wasn’t his fault.

The Mets then were blanked by left-hander Mike Minor and David Carpenter in a 6-0 loss in the regularly scheduled contest. Gee took a scoreless effort into the fifth, when he surrendered five runs, including a two-run homer to Minor. This season, Gee has held opposing batters to a .225 average and no homers the first time through the order. After facing him one plate appearance, though, opponents are hitting .392 with eight homers during subsequent at-bats in the game.

Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger, Record, Times and MLB.com.

• Read more on Gee in the Post.

Ike Davis delivered a line-drive single over shortstop against Kimbrel after the suspended game resumed, but then sat against the left-handed Minor. He struck out on three pitches as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of the regularly scheduled game and is now 2-for-his-last-44. Read more in the Post, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Times.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News suggests the stench in Flushing is more than Davis stinking up the joint. Writes Harper:

At this point the Ike Davis saga is little more than a symbolic sideshow. Yes, he should be in the minors by now, if only to throw a life preserver to a drowning hitter, but with each passing day, the debate matters less and less as the Mets sink into oblivion.

Suffice to say the Mets are as bad as the weather lately, and, of course, only one of the two is guaranteed to get better in the weeks ahead. Remember when Sandy Alderson insisted during the winter that he wasn’t punting on 2013? Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend, and the only race the Mets are in is the one to avoid the embarrassment of finishing behind the Triple-A Marlins.

Never mind punting. The season already feels like one long Hail Mary. I mean, you knew the Mets had no shot of contending, but, Matt Harvey aside, did anybody really think they’d be this unwatchable?

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Scott Atchison and Jeurys Familia began rehab assignments Saturday with Class A St. Lucie.

Scott Atchison and Jeurys Familia began rehab assignments Saturday with Class A St. Lucie, each tossing scoreless innings. Atchison had experienced numbness in his fingers during a May 13 appearance at St. Louis, which was related to elbow inflammation, so appearing in a minor league game this soon would appear a positive sign. When similar symptoms surfaced last year while with the Boston Red Sox, Atchison passed on undergoing Tommy John surgery but missed two months. Familia has been on the DL since May 12 with biceps tendinitis.

• Starter Logan Verrett retired the final 13 batters he faced and Binghamton beat Portland, 3-2, on a throwing error in the 10th. Phillip Evans’ two-out, walk-off hit in the ninth scored Cole Frenzel with the winning run as Savannah overcame a one-run deficit in the final frame to beat Augusta, 2-1. Angel Cuan tossed seven scoreless innings and combined with Familia and Atchison on a two-hit shutout as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 1-0. Read the full minor league recap here.

• The Mets amended their ticket-exchange policy for Friday’s suspended game. If you haven’t already traded in tickets for Friday's suspended game, you need to do so for tonight’s series finale against Atlanta. Originally, the Mets had said fans could trade in the tickets for any comparably priced seat this season, subject to availability. Read more in the Daily News.

• Mike Kerwick in the Record believes the Subway Series getting reduced from six to four games this season is good for the Mets, but not the fans.

• Vote on the best Subway Series moments, Sweet 16 bracket style, in the Post.

• Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with Gary, Keith and Ron.

• Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record outlines some Subway Series matchups to watch.

• Columnist George Willis in the Post writes something unflattering about Wheeler.

• Harvey’s social life made the tabloids. Read more in the Daily News.

From the bloggers … Faith and Fear discovered Mets-Braves suspended game precedent from 1979. … John Delcos at Mets Report suggests Davis needs the minor leagues right now.

BIRTHDAYS: Right-hander Kevin Mulvey, who now helps coach the Villanova baseball team, turns 28. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Johan Santana deal.


YOU’RE UP: Who should get bounced from the rotation for Zack Wheeler?